Visuals by the Light Brigade 

November 25, 2013

Dear Mayor-Elect de Blasio, City Council Members (new and continuing), and Transition Team Members,

Congratulations! We, leaders from across sectors, write to share how arts and culture can and should play a vital role in achieving the inspirational One City Rising platform.  We are thrilled to offer the attachedPolicy Brief that lays out a vision of Arts and Culture as essential and integral to a more just and equitable city for all New Yorkers. It is rooted in the values of creating a city that cares about our neighborhoods, insists on equality, and embraces civic energy.

Below we highlight key time-sensitive strategies the Mayoral team and City Council should consider right now to keep culture at the table during transition planning:


Integrate arts and culture across policymaking and practice including, but not limited to: safe streets and transportation, arts education, juvenile justice, early childhood development, education, immigration, sustainability, housing, and community development.

ACT NOW: The Mayor should require that every city agency designate a staff member responsible for thinking about and integrating arts into their agenda with specific programmatic, policymaking, and funding goals. The Mayor’s Office should create a position to facilitate and support arts-related interagency collaboration.


Build arts and culture into civic participation across the city to reach those who have been historically disenfranchised and to stimulate civic dialogue and action across difference.

ACT NOW: The Mayor should establish a citywide Office of Civic Participation and include arts and cultural leadership, methodologies, and partnerships in this office.


Revitalize New York City from the neighborhood up by supporting community leadership, cultural hubs, and vital social networks.

ACT NOW: Create a City Council staff position to act as a resource to council members in supporting small organizations and neighborhood-based culture in their districts to ensure that they have the same access to city resources and technical support that larger institutions enjoy.


Prioritize equitable distribution of opportunities and benefits related to arts and culture.

ACT NOW: Appoint a Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner who will prioritize cultural equity in agency goals and programs. Select leadership that reflects the city’s diversity. Develop a cultural plan for NYC that advances cultural equity and participation.


There is a wealth of resources and allies among the artists, activists, and cultural organizations working for social change.

ACT NOW: Establish formal mechanisms for practitioners to support and provide advice about the above policy recommendations through advisory committees and working groups.

We need to work together and harness every resource that we have at hand – data, policy, community knowledge, civic energy, and creativity – to achieve a fair, equitable, and sustainable city. We need to be able to imagine a city where we can live meaningful lives in thriving communities and build the relationships and public will to get us there. Arts and culture makes a powerful contribution toward these goals. By fully engaging our creativity we can truly become, One City Rising Together.

In the upcoming weeks, as the transition takes shape, we look forward to highlighting other aspects of the attached brief.

Read the brief here 


Initial Signatories 
List in Development

To add your signature, visit:



Arts & Democracy Project

Asian American Arts Centre

Bangladesh Institute of Performing Arts

Bowery Arts + Science

Bronx Council on the Arts

Buckminster Fuller Institute

Center for Arts Education

Center for Media Justice

College Access: Research & Action

Councilmember Brad Lander’s Office

Dance Theatre Etcetera

Downtown Arts

East River Academy, Rikers Island

ECE PolicyWorks

Educational Video Center

El Puente

Fifth Avenue Committee, Inc

freeDimensional, Zero Capital

Global Action Project


Hester Street Collaborative

New York Chinatown History Project

Naturally Occurring Cultural Districts New York (NOCD-NY)

Ocean Bay Community Development Corporation

Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow

Ping Chong + Company

Pitkin Avenue Business Improvement District


Pratt Center for Community Development

Staten Island Arts (formerly COAHSI)

Sustainability Strategies

The Field

The Foundry Theatre

The Laundromat Project


The Public Science Project of The Graduate Center, CUNY

Transportation Alternatives

Urban Bush Women

Voices UnBroken

World Up


Affiliation noted for identification purposes only

Bill Aguado, Cultural Equity Group

Fay Chiang, Project Reach

Jan Cohen-Cruz, Public: A Journal of Imagining America

Rachel Falcone, Sandy Storyline

Ronit Fallek, Montefiore Medical Center

Rachael Fauss, Citizens Union

Mindy Thompson Fullilove, MD, Columbia University

Tamara Greenfield, Fourth Arts Block

Marc I. Gross, Pomerantz Grossman Hufford Dahlstrom & Gross, LLP

Matthew Hopkins, Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation

Rob Krulak, New York Live Arts

Josh Lerner, Participatory Budgeting Project

Todd Lester, World Policy Institute

Rabbi Ellen Lippmann, Kolot Chayeinu/Voices of Our Lives

Andrea Louie, Asian American Arts Alliance

Randy Martin, NYU

Meghan McDermott, Global Action Project

Jackie Miller, Only Make Believe

Joan Minieri, Community Learning Partnership

Eve Mosher, artist

Michael Premo, Housing is a Human Right

Marlène Ramírez-Cancio, Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics

Yasmin Ramirez

George Emilio Sanchez, artist

Amy Schwartzman, National Coalition for Arts’ Preparedness and Emergency Response

Sasha Sumner, Pratt Institute

Schawannah Wright, Columbia University

Sarah Zeller-Berkman, PhD, The Youth Development Institute

To review an up-to-date list of signatories, visit:

For more information contact:

Caron Atlas
Arts & Democracy Project, Director 
Naturally Occurring Cultural Districts New York (NOCD-NY), Co-Director

Amy Sananman
Groundswell, Executive Director